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Carmi Rotary Club Meeting Held

The principal of the Carmi-White County Junior High was on hand at Thursday’s meeting of the Carmi Rotary club, but Bart King wasn’t there to talk about school, but rather his other passion, the “We Love White County” program.

Mr. King began his talk by letting the Rotarians know that he is a Carmi native, and is happy being here in his home town. He then started his presentation by telling the story of driving a bus one day, when he saw a man pushing a baby stroller full of Christmas presents. Bart stated that in that moment, he began thinking about what else could be done around our community. A short while later, he got together with some friends, and the group brainstormed that question. The result was the beginning of the We Love White County organization.

The group officially began with a breakfast and lunch meal program, during the Covid-19 lockdown days. That grew in to a mobile food pantry, which led to the organization receiving donations to increase their reach. The WLWC group applied for and received a grant through Welborn Hospital, and with that, other large donations came in as well.

Around that same time, a large donor purchased the old Brown’s Feed Store, and completely renovated that building. That individual shared many of the same concerns and beliefs as the core group, and soon, the WLWC group had a new home.

Not long after that move, another gentleman approached the organization and told how he had taken possession of eleven refrigerated truck trailers through a government program. He asked if the Carmi group would like to have one. At first, it seemed too good to be true, but after meeting with the man, Bart was convinced the offer was legit. The same gentleman had connections with several food companies, and was able to fill the trailer with good food products. Since that day, WLWC has held two food give-aways, and will be having more in the future.

One of the main areas of focus for the group are the children in our area. They have established the “Arrows” program, which is a mentoring program aimed at specific groups of children in the White County school district. This program tries to reach 6th and 7th graders who need a little help with the basics, and is able to provide them a safe space to learn and grow.

Right now, the group of 10-12 kids meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Seed Station on Stewart Street. Inside this totally renovated space, the kids have access to a STEM lab with 12 computers, a full kitchen, washers and dryers, and a game room complete with a pool table, retro video games, and modern games as well. Also within the walls of the building is a basketball court and a pickleball court.

Volunteers are on hand to help with academic issues as well as enrichment programs aimed to help the kids better navigate daily life.

This group will wrap up at the end of the school year, but there is a summer camping trip being planned, that will include the existing group as well as next year’s crop of 6th graders. The goal is for these kids to

stay in the program until graduation, while continuing to expand the service to more kids as each year comes along.

We Love White County is a 5013C organization, and is funded by donations from the community. If anyone is interested in helping out; either as a volunteer or through a donation, feel free to contact them via email: 404seedstation@gmail.com or stop by and see for yourself.

The Carmi Rotary club meets every Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street in Carmi. Anyone wishing to learn more about this civic organization is welcome to attend a meeting or speak with any Carmi Rotarian.

 

 

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